I just finished watching War Room, a touching movie about the power of prayer and Christian friendship that begins as a mentorship, or discipleship. As I listened to a spirited older woman giving advice to the younger one about how to engage in battle in prayer as the younger woman engages in a spiritual battles to save her marriage. I was reminded of a similar conversation I had with my aunt. She happens to also be my Confirmation sponsor. Since my teens, I have appreciated her wisdom and gone to her for practical advice.
During one memorable conversation in which I was discussing my fears, she told me to pick up my Bible and read the psalms, out loud if need be. She told me that that’s how she had battled her fears when she first got married. While I am not married, I do have fears that come with the territory of young adulthood. Thanks to my aunt and the concept of mentoring/discipleship, I am learning how to be a woman of faith by walking in her footsteps.
One of my closest friends is a missionary with FOCUS—the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. They dedicate two years of their lives on college campuses evangelizing college students primarily through Bible study groups and discipling. Depending on the size of the college campus and the nature of their mission, one missionary may have six disciples that she meets with one hour each week. During this hour, the missionary helps them to develop their relationship with Jesus through prayer and helps keep them accountable to lead her Bible studies and live authentically her faith. These six then go and lead their own bible studies and have one or two disciples that they form deep bonds of friendship with and try to lead closer to Christ. To sum it all up: “Through outreach events and one-on-one conversations, students make meaningful connections with members of Christ’s body — growing in friendships, sharing life and coming together in authentic community.”
In Regnum Christi, we have something very similar. When I served as a Mission Corps member from 2007-2008, I remember learning about the principle of person to person. We do not send out advertisements for people to join encounters in the newspaper or church bulletin. Rather, friends invite friends to encounters, mornings of reflections, retreats, etc.
If we think of the New Testament, this is often how Jesus worked. He met the woman at the well, asked Peter how much he loved him, defended the woman being stoned, to name a few of these such relationships. Even his relationship with Judas was deeply personal. At the Last Supper, he didn’t say: all right, now, John, look, Judas is going to betray me. He looked into Judas’ eyes and said, “Now go and do what you have set out to do.” Judas, knowing how Jesus and his closest band of friends and disciples worked, decided to betray Jesus through the very intimacy of their relationship. Though unable to fool Jesus, Judas tried to pull the wool over his eyes and those of the disciples by doing something that the disciples would have thought was normal: giving Jesus a kiss.
Just as women in War Room, the Focus Missionaries, and Regnum Christi members spread the gospel person to person.